An Australian developer wants to spend $60 million-plus on a new hotel at the entrance to Queenstown.

Pro-invest Group has lodged plans with the local council for an eye-catching 227-room Holiday Inn Express, breathing new life into a prominent plot on the corner of Stanley, Sydney and Melbourne Streets.

It’ll replace the Bungi Backpackers and cover an adjoining section next to the Millennium Hotel, helping to ease the resort’s shortage of visitor accommodation.

But the development will be sad news for some local people who remember the backpacker hostel as the town’s former maternity hospital.

The hotel will accommodate up to 450 guests in two wings of three and four levels.

To avoid traffic pressure on the Stanley St entrance to town, and on Melbourne St, which may become part of a CBD bypass, the hotel’s entrance will be off Sydney St.

There’ll also be underground parking off Melbourne St.

It’s used by more than 2400 hotels worldwide.

Pro-invest Group’s development boss Tim Sherlock says: “We are committed to developing a high-quality Holiday Inn Express hotel that will be a landmark building at the gateway to Queenstown.”

Uniquely, the ‘select-service’ brand won’t have full-scale food and beverage facilities.

“You ask anyone who goes to Queenstown what the food was like in the hotel and they’d say ‘the breakfast was alright, but for everything else I ate out’,” Sherlock says.

“Why would you sit in your room when you’ve got Botswana Butchery, The Bunker, all these beautiful restaurants?

“We don’t build those elements because ultimately people don’t use them, and therefore we can be more competitive on the rate.”

As a result, only about 15 staff are needed, most of whom will be accommodated on-site.

However the four-star hotel will still have a fitness centre, laundry facilities and function room.

There’ll also be free breakfast, grab-and-go food and Wi-Fi.

Local architect Preston Stevens, of McAuliffe Stevens, says his design reflects the hotel’s immediate urban environment and wider natural landscape.

He calls it “a kinetic interplay of ice and rock”.

Sherlock says he likes the way the Stanley and Melbourne St facades are broken up.

It’s understood Pro-invest Group paid $12m last year for the 5615 square metre site, which was formerly two separate properties.

The vendor, Dunedin-based Three Beaches Ltd, originally owned the Bungi Backpackers site.

In 2015, it then bought the neighbouring villa, since demolished, of the late Dr Bill and Molly Anderson.

Sherlock says that, subject to resource consent, he hopes construction – employing more than 750 workers – will start late this year.

The hotel would then open for business either late next year or early to mid 2019.

It will be Pro-invest Group’s seventh Holiday Inn Express – the other six, under varying stages of development, are in Australia.

Sherlock’s also close to buying an Auckland CBD site.

His group’s proposed local hotel is being welcomed by advocacy body Tourism Industry Aotearoa and Destination Queenstown.

TIA boss Chris Roberts says: “It’s well recognised that there is a need for new hotels to meet the tourism growth forecasts for Queenstown.”

DQ boss Graham Budd says his marketing body supports the hotel.

“It is positive to see continued investment in Queenstown and we welcome the addition of new hotel capacity.”

  • Holiday Inn Express brand is operated by InterContinental Hotels Group, which also manages Queenstown’s Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels. Pro-invest will own and operate the Queenstown